“Pain” au chocolat

Could Alexandre be so advanced that we have headed into the terrible two’s before we are even 18 months old? I don’t recall the other kids being quite so difficult or demanding, and, naturally… I am inclined to consider the one big parenting difference between Alex and the “big kids:” his bilingual upbringing.

While 18 months seemed to have been a landmark age in communication in my previous experiences, Alex prefers to communicate in grunts, groans, or worse – screams and temper tantrums.  Some moms are quick to console me with the old adage of the youngest not needing to learn how to speak since the older children will interpret his needs for him.  Yet, what we have found is that the others are quickly picking up the language we had hoped Alex would be using by now.  Everyone has reverted to “à tes souhaits” after a sneeze and everything from “bonjour” to “bonne nuit” has become second nature around the house.  And while Alex can play a mean game of peek-a-boo à la française, getting him to even mimic the inflection or tone of “s’il te plaît” or “merci” is an all-out war; a war he usually wins by someone in the family handing him whatever it is he has decided he needs while we look frantically for the source of the deafening tantrum.

I have maintained OPOL (One Parent One Language) consistently since his birth, however, our moments together one-on-one have waned considerably with the return to school and work.  How long is too long to determine if we have a case of terrible twos, or a real speech disorder?

A pain one minute, a sweetie the next!


  1. My husband and I are raising our 18 month old son tri-lingually (English, French and Spanish) and have encountered the same issue regarding delayed speech. While he understands an incredible amount in all three languages, he has yet to speak in any. Our doctor said that this is not something to worry about for three reasons: boys typically speak later than girls, early walkers (which our son was) speak later as well, and being raised around more than one language tends to delay speech. We’ve been told not to worry until our son is two.

  2. Could you introduce just a few simple signs? I don’t have much experience at all, but my daughter was on the very slow end of normal (pretty far below average) with speech and on the much faster side with both gross- and fine-motor skills. We didn’t go all out, but we used & she picked up about 3-4 signs that really made life quite a bit easier (more, done, milk). Good luck in your bilingual journey!

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